When smartwatches first started appearing there was a serious lack of designer smartwatches and definitely a focus on substance over style. The emergence of a wristwatch that could tell you that someone was calling, or enable you to reply to a message without having to get your phone out of your pocket was the most important thing. Fortunately, the brands we know and love have caught on and started producing some sleek-looking designs. We take a look at two for women and two for men.
1. Kate Spade Scallop 2
This offering from Kate Spade is the first of its kind for the brand, with a touchscreen running on Google Wear OS. It has some features that make it a wonderful everyday watch and thanks to the interchangeable straps, you can customise it to match the occasion.
Those features include activity tracking, a heart rate monitor, contactless payments personal goal setting and even access to Google assistant. It’s voice-activated and you can pair it with either Android or Apple smartphones.
It also has the smart features you’d expect, such as notifications for calls, messages and other apps, as well as 4GB of storage for music. Scrolling through the menus is easy and responsive and the face itself offers 390 x 390-pixel resolution.
The battery life is a little disappointing; if you keep your notifications on you can expect to have to put this on charge every night.
- Sleek, feminine design
- Customisable watch straps
- Large screen
- Reasonably rugged given the lightweight design
- Works better with Android
- Disappointing battery life
- No GPS
2. Fossil Women’s Gen 5 smartwatch
Without a doubt, this is the best smartwatch Fossil has ever produced with Google’s Wear OS at the core.
They’ve put a lot of features into the Gen 5. It holds an altimeter, an ambient light sensor, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, GPS and NFC. This doesn’t slow it down any; movement through apps and menus is smooth (though not as smooth as an Apple Watch). It’s compatible with Android and iOS, although it’s better with the former. You can download third-party apps like Uber and it has Google assistant for ease of use. It will display notifications like calls, text, email, calendar alerts and various social media.
The women’s version, the Julianna, comes with a stainless steel case in rose gold with a band to match or a blush leather band. There’s also a stainless steel option that comes in black, with a matching mesh band. Bands are 22mm and interchangeable. The overall look is subtle but beautiful, and it’s waterproof to 3m so there’s no fear about wearing it whilst you shower or swim.
- Good battery life
- Subtle design
- Responsive and intuitive
- Speaker quality isn’t great
- No ECG function
3. Skagen Falster 2 Smartwatch
Another Wear OS watch, the Skagen Falster 2 is incredibly subtle and uber-stylish with its minimalist look. Great for anyone looking for something low-key.
There are four navigation directions to swipe on the screen that give access to Google Assistant, notifications, settings and Google Fit.
It monitors your heart rate which you can track with Google Fit which it monitors automatically every 20 minutes, but as with the GPS function, can drain the battery pretty quickly if left on. It has NFP so Google Pay is a quick option.
The Skagen Falster 2 can join you in water up to 30m deep and the silicon strap is good for swimmers as it’s light and quick drying.
It has 4GB memory for songs and 512MB RAM for speed. The band is 11mm thick and replaceable and the case is 40mm.
The only real downside to this beautiful timepiece is that you’ll need to charge it every day.
- Truly unique minimalist design
- Lots of convenient smart features
- Robust to withstand activity
- Terrible battery life
4. Armani Exchange Connected Smartwatch
If you find this watch at this price, don’t think you’ve found a bargain by confusing it with the Emporio Armani Connected (typically over £350). While both operate on Wear OS and have some shared features, the design and hardware are different. Both are great looking, but the Armarni Exchange Connected is a smartwatch in disguise – you’d never know it wasn’t a dress watch.
This monster comes with an above-average case size, 48mm compared to the typical 42mm. You can choose between black, blue, gold or silver. The case matches the link strap and it has 22mm lugs. It has a 1.2-inch screen boasting 380 x 390 pixel resolution.
There are no surprises when it comes to features. The Connected offers activity tracking via GPS so you can enjoy an outdoor run without your phone weighing you own. You can go swimming as it’s waterproof to 50m deep. All your activity is captured via the heart rate monitor which talks to Google Fit. There’s also NFP for using Google Pay and it’s Android and iOS compatible.
Anyone who’s used a Wear OS device before will instantly be familiar with how The Connected operates, but the good thing is you can customise it to your style with multiple watch face options. It’ll show you the usual notifications like calls, text, email, social media and other apps.
There’s a fitness tracking element by taking advantage of Google Fit, whether you’re a runner or into yoga, the Connected can offer some valuable insights.
The official line is that the Connected will give you two days of battery life, but the reality is closer to 36 hours.
- Very high-quality look and feel
- Accurate heart rate monitor and GPS
- Contactless payment feature
- Disappointing battery life
- Chunky design, might not be to everyone’s taste
- Performance can sometimes be slow
5. Huawei GT 2 Pro
You may not think of this as a designer brand, but, have you seen the watch? The Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is the latest stunning smartwatch from the brand, made of titanium and featuring a sapphire glass surface and a new ceramic case back. What’s more, it comes with both a leather and silicone strap.
It is driven by Huawei’s custom UI which is battery-friendly.
Alerts from your smartphone will be relayed to the watch. Its data will be fed into systems like MyFitnesspal, Google Fit and Apple Health, but you can’t use it to train with third-party apps such as Strava.
The 1.39-inch OLED display on the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is bold and light. It also has an auto-brightness function, which is convenient.
Support for wireless charging has recently been introduced. This eliminates the hassle of using a proprietary charger.
When it comes to workouts and monitoring features, Huawei has gone above and beyond, including a route back app that allows you to find your way home even if your mobile data is running low. Onboard, there’s also an Outdoor Assistant that displays sunrise and sunset times, as well as tide, moon phase, and bad weather updates and warnings.
The heart rate sensor on the Watch GT 2 has also been improved, with better light distribution, promising more precise monitoring.
A smartwatch’s battery life is never guaranteed, but the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro runs around 5-6 days if the always-on display turned on. Without i, 10-14 days. Although it isn’t as smooth as an Apple Watch, swiping feels more immediate than on older Watch GTs and it’s generally very consistent.
The end result is a stylish fitness tracker with excellent build quality and a robust feature set.
- Style that is truly exceptional
- Battery life is 10-14 days
- Qi wireless charging is a convenient option
- There is no third-party app support
- Notifications aren’t interactive and have little intelligent use
6. Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 seems to be the luxury watchmaker’s latest attempt to design a stylish wristwatch that can also perform the same functions as other Android Wear devices.
This is a pricey but enticing alternative to the Huawei Watch 2, which delivers the same Android Wear 2.0 features, comes in an arguably more appealing box.
Smartwatches aren’t necessarily made with fashion in mind, but the Tag Heuer is. Is the luxury design and fashion brand, however, enough to entice you to spend significantly more than you would on other Android Wear devices?
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 is a high-end timepiece that looks nice on the wrist, but it doesn’t come cheap.
- Excellent architecture
- The monitor is large and bright
- Price is extremely high
- No heart rate sensor
- There isn’t a rotating bezel or a crown
7. Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon
This is not only a cutting-edge wearable, but also an endlessly customisable creative device that follows in the footsteps of Louis Vuitton’s lengthy tradition of personalisation, with advancements inside and out.
The Tambour Horizon’s one-of-a-kind case is available in a variety of materials and colours. Plus, like its analogue predecessors, it can be customised by switching out the adjustable bands. It also has a circular body that conceals the thick 12.6mm casing underneath. This makes it a little chunkier than the likes of the Skagen Falster 2, but it’s not obvious.
Due to a completely digital touch screen display, the Tambour Horizon’s watch face is built to be enchanting. More, it comes with a variety of content, including typical watch functionality and some Louis Vuitton extra features for all of those who love to travel.
- Unlike every other smartwatch, this one offers a true digital experience.
- Travel enthusiasts will appreciate the special features.
- The price, of course! Expect close to $1,500
8. Michael Kors Lexington Gen 5 Smartwatch
The Michael Kors Access Lexington Gen 5 is a huge step away from the brand’s first foray into the world of smartwatches and is the fashion house’s most refined smartwatch to date.
It looks fantastic, if a little opulent for some tastes, and it feels just as costly as it is.
Deep down, however, it’s essentially a Fossil Gen 5 with a unique look, making it a pricey proposition for someone who isn’t obsessed with wearing brand names on their wrist.
This build, made of stainless steel and driven by Google, includes not only text and email updates, but also contactless payments, heart-rate monitoring, swim-proof functionality, GPS and other features. If you want to change things up, there are interchangeable straps available.
The Michael Kors Access Lexington Gen 5 will be a fashionable addition to your wardrobe. Remember though, this is essentially a regular Wear OS smartwatch with a designer price tag attached.
- It looks fantastic
- Speaker built-in
- The style is truly unisex
- Strap adjustments are fiddly
- The speaker isn’t great for the price
9. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 improves on its predecessor by adding a digital rotating bezel, a larger version, ECG, and an LTE option. However, it is also significantly more expensive, with just a few additional features commanding such a high price. Combining high-tech functionality with a traditional ticker design.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a wrist-worn personal health tracker that works with the Samsung Health app. On-screen, you can see your health rundown in real-time and access hundreds of resources that will help you maintain not only your fitness but your wellbeing, too. The watch records and automatically saves every walk, run, and cycle you take, recognising when you’re exercising, as well as tracking your sleep and providing stress-relieving breathing exercises.
- Digital haptic dial is fantastic
- 2-day battery life is OK for a smartwatch
- Minimalist style is appealing
- An expensive upgrade
- There are very few third-party applications available
10. Diesel On Axial Smartwatch
The Diesel On Axial shares almost all of the same features as the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3, including the 1.28-inch AMOLED display. It runs Wear OS and is equipped with a Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, as well as a variety of fitness and wellness features.
Diesel opted for a stainless steel case with a ring on top, making it a little bulky but durable.
The products in Diesel’s collection come in a variety of finishes, and there are significant differences between them. You can choose from a variety of strap colours and material combinations.
The On Axial Smartwatch from Diesel is a little less costly than, say, Armani’s close rival.
The Diesel On Axial smartwatch presents a rugged and masculine style that will cater to those who want a timepiece that is stronger and more daring-looking than most. It’s a pretty traditional higher-end Wear OS smartwatch under the hood, but that isn’t a negative thing. However, it is pricey.
- Style that stands out
- Comfortable to wear
- Speaker built-in
- The battery life is still a little short
- Wear OS can be slow at times
- Not suitable for small wrists
The introduction of designer brands producing smartwatches has really upped the ante – long gone are the days of heavy, rubber-clad cases with silicon straps. But designer brands come at a premium price, so don’t let a price tag fool you into thinking it comes with all the bells and whistles. Be sure to check out the features!
Last Updated on May 8, 2021